Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bye-bye, Google Reader :(

Come tomorrow, I will be celebrating Canada Day -- but mourning the loss of my constant companion for the past 5+ years, my Google Reader.

I first heard about blog readers shortly after I started blogging... for awhile, Pamela Jeanne had a link to her blog reader on her blog, & I found a lot of great blogs through there. Then I started hearing about Google Reader, & I think I remember Mel singing its praises. I was getting tired of going down my list of bookmarks, clicking over to see if there was anything new to read, so I decided I'd try it. and very soon, I was hooked. It's been my constant companion, both at home & (sshh!!) at work ever since then. When I have a few spare minutes, when I first log on in the morning or when I'm eating lunch at my desk, I will click over to Google Reader & see what's new.

So I freaked out when I heard a few months ago that Google, in its infinite wisdom, would be discontinuing the Google Reader as of July 1st. I downloaded my subscriptions -- but then the hunt began to find an alternative. I looked into several.  Feedly sounded promising, and many bloggers were singing its praises -- but it only works on smartphones & with Firefox, neither of which I use. :p  I tried The Old Reader, which I'd also heard good things about, but I couldn't for the life of me transfer over my Google Reader subscriptions.

I wound up with Bloglovin. It's not perfect, but it will do. (I guess it will HAVE to do. ) 

What I like about it:
  • It works!! lol  I was able to transfer over my Google Reader subscriptions successfully.
  • It hides blogs that don't have anything new to read from the list. (You can opt to show them if you like. It's just neater & easier to see what there is to read.)
What I dislike/will miss about Google Reader:
  • On Google Reader, most blogs can be read in their entirety through the Reader -- you don't have to click over to read the rest of the post. On Bloglovin, you do.
  • It seems slower than Google Reader. I've noticed that I will have read a post on Google Reader that has yet to show up on Bloglovin.
  • Blogloving transferred over my individual blog subscriptions, but not the subject folders I had them sorted into. So I had to recategorize all my subscriptions. I'm talking over 500 blogs (albeit not all of them active)(not all ALI-related, either). :p
Farewell, Google Reader. It's been nice knowing you. Thanks for all the good reading.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Long weekend odds & ends

  • It's (finally) Friday.  It's a long weekend here (Canada Day, July 1st, a statutory holiday, is conveniently on a Monday this year), and I am off work for the rest of next week as well. I guess I could have saved the time for later or carry over to next year, since we will be off to see my mom & dad before long too... but I am glad I took the time. ; ) It was a stressful week at work, & I could use a break. 
  • I am also glad to have some time to spend with dh.  He is still adjusting to unemployment/early-than-expected retirement. He has been spending more time with his dad -- and he has been doing the housecleaning for me!  (And doing a good job of it, too.)(And no, I don't hire him out.) ; )  He's developed a taste for "Storage Wars" (!!)  Can you tell he's bored?
  • I also need to get organized.  About 10+ years ago, dh's cousins on his mom's side of the family decided we weren't seeing enough of each other any more, and so we began having an annual get-together/reunion at the end of summer (started off on the Labour Day weekend, but has gradually moved back into mid/late August). It started as a barbecue with everyone bringing something, but it was a pain to organize and there was always a ton of food left over.  These days, we all chip in & hire a caterer and the hosts just provide the setup, drinks & munchies. All the cousins have taken turns hosting to date...except.... guess who??   
  • I have 7 weeks to get ready. (And we will be away for two of them.)
  • I have been dreading this for 10 years, knowing that some day, it would be our turn.  Well, the day is at hand. I wish I were a natural entertainer, but I'm not. Once people are here, I enjoy myself -- but the planning & prep are nervewracking. I get anxious just having a few people over for coffee, never mind 40-odd people for dinner (even if it IS catered).  
  • Part of my anxiety is about the house & yard. There are a gazillion things that need doing to make the place presentable before entertaining anyone, let alone the in-laws. There's also the nagging (albeit totally self-inflicted) feeling that, being a mangiacake (non-Italian -- the lone one in the family) & also the lone childless adult woman, I'm already enough of an oddity -- so I'd better be a top-notch hostess, show off an immaculate and well-kept home, and throw a damned good party to make up for my shortcomings.
  • Besides getting some of the house & yard work done or organized while I'm off next week, I want to investigate caterers -- and canopy/tent rentals. We have a nice big backyard, thankfully, but it gets quite hot & sunny in the afternoon -- and should it start to rain (which it never has for this occasion -- knock wood...!!), the house is too small and not adequately configured to accommodate 40+ people for dinner.   
  • On a more positive note:  it's a long weekend. It's Canada Day. I am so very, very grateful that I was born and get to live in such an awesome country. : )
  • I had the bright idea to head up to the Toronto Eaton Centre at lunchtime today. They hae a Hallmark store & I had some cards to buy.  But it was Friday. Lunchtime. At the Toronto Eaton Centre, the busiest and most famous mall in Toronto -- make that all of Canada. Before a LONG weekend (not to mention it's Pride weekend here too). On the last day (or day after the last day) of school for most of the kids in this province. With tourists flooding into the city. And rain pouring outside (meaning that everyone wants to be inside instead). What on earth was I thinking??  :p   ; )

Friday, June 21, 2013

Right Where I Am: 14 years, 10 months, 15 days

I recently ran into a woman I know from another department at work, at the coffee shop in our building. She asked about my summer plans, and I asked about hers. "How old is your little girl now?" I asked, remembering the bright-eyed toddler I saw with her in the elevator some years ago. I figured she must be -- what? 10 years old now?

"Fourteen," the mother replied wearily, adding flatly, "She was MUCH cuter when she was four."

I had to pick my jaw up from the floor -- not only the fact that her daughter was really 14 (!!) -- but also that she was the same age that MY daughter would be right now. How had I forgotten that? Or did I just block that part out? 

It will soon be 15 years since I held that wee white bundle in my arms, kissed the tip of my finger, pressed it to her cold, red forehead and whispered goodbye.  She would have turned 15 in November. She would be in high school now, Grade 10 (gulp) this fall. No doubt (as my colleague wearily alluded) she would be driving her father & I crazy right now. (Dh, of course, insists that she'd be perfect.)(Not only perfect -- in his mind, she's a genius and already attending university. Sure, honey, whatever you say... ) ; )

It's a daunting prospect. I have to admit, I am having a harder time envisioning her these days, what she'd be like. Maybe I don't WANT to think about it, lol.

Grief is my constant companion, but far less intrusive  these days. It rises to the surface now & then -- certain dates, a sad TV show, some visits to the cemetery (but not others). When my 7-months-pregnant coworker lost her baby earlier this spring, it was like a sucker-punch to the gut.

Grief these days is a thin veil of sadness, of world-weariness, that envelops my experience. Most days, the veil is gossamer thin, but there are still times when it wraps itself around me so thickly I find it hard to breathe.  I wonder sometimes if it's grief, or age, or a bit of both that I'm dealing with these days? Sometimes it's hard to separate the two. After all, grief comes to all of us, eventually -- if not the loss of a child, the loss of a parent or grandparent or someone else we love, the end of an era, the loss of a dream. Some of us become acquainted with grief sooner rather than later. The longer we live, the more intimately acquainted with it we become. And each loss, each brush with grief, forever alters the lens through which we see the world.

There are many days when I still feel like I'm 20. But there are also days -- more & more of them, lately -- when I feel every bit of my 52 years -- physically, mentally, emotionally. (Even though Aunt Flo continues to visit me with maddening regularity.)

I am surrounded by reminders that I am no longer 20 -- that the fertility boat has long since sailed without me. One of my high school classmates became a grandmother last year, and celebrated her daughter's wedding in Mexico this spring. Another high school classmate's daughter is getting married next month. Another, who got married the same year I did and whose two daughters are now in university, recently announced her forthcoming divorce, after 27 years of marriage. Another lost her mother a few months ago.

We have four summer students this year, on top of the many 20 & 30-somethings in my office.  One coworker got married last year, got a puppy & just bought a house. I am waiting for the pregnancy announcement any day now. :p  Two are bridesmaids in friends' weddings, so I get to hear endless discussions about dress shopping and bachelorette party planning. One new dad is leaving soon on six months paternal leave;  another dad is expecting his second child any day now.

As I write this, in a cubicle near mine, there is a group of young coworkers gathered around the computer, oohing & ahhhing over photos of one girl's best friend's brand new baby. Grandma Coworker -- closer to my age than theirs, but a mother & grandmother -- is reminiscing about what it was like when her own daughter was born, and advising what kind of present to take to the hospital. The younger girls are giggling and sighing in awe and anticipation of the day when they too will become mothers. When, not if.  And who am I to rain on their parade?

I sit quietly in my cubicle. I do not cry -- but I wince.

I have a good life today, despite stillbirth and infertility. But that doesn't mean I have forgotten, or wonder about the life I might have had. I still sometimes wistfully glance down the road not taken.

The words of a lovely old Gershwin song, as sung by the immortal Ella Fitzgerald, echo in my head (especially the first two and last three lines):

They’re writing songs of love - but not for me
A lucky star’s above - but not for me
With love to lead the way
I’ve found more clouds of gray
Than any Russian play could guarantee

I was a fool to fall - and get that way
Hi ho alas and also lackaday
Although I can’t dismiss
The memory of his kiss
I guess he’s not for me

Right Where I Am 2012
Right Where I Am 2011

For more "Right Where I Am" posts, about what grief looks like with the passage of time, visit Angie's blog.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recent reading: Plutocrats/The Great Gatsby

I didn't consciously plan to follow up reading "Plutocrats" by Chrystia Freeland with "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- but I finished "Plutocrats" not long before the new movie version of "The Great Gatsby" was released -- and I wanted to read Gatsby The Book before I saw Gatsby The Movie.  And the two books turned out to be remarkably complementary.

I enjoy Freeland's regular columns for The Globe & Mail, and her appearance late last year on Bill Moyers' PBS show, so I thought I would tackle "Plutocrats," an award-winning and critically lauded look at not just the 1% but the top 0.1% of the 1% -- the richest of the rich, how they got that way, and what their growing power means for the rest of us.

It's a much more readable book than you might think, full of entertaining anecdotes, and fairly well balanced. Freeland says most of the plutocrats she studied & spoke to for this book genuinely believe they are the authors of their own good fortune, through their smarts, hard work and willingness to take risks (with the corollory belief that we too could be rich if we were willing to put in the same sort of effort).  However, she details the confluence of other factors responsible for their collective rise, including globalization, deregulation, the rise of technology -- and the sheer good luck of being in the right place with the right qualifications at the right time.  She also points to similar eras in history -- 14th century Venice, for example, and what happened when the wealthy gained too much power -- as a warning. 

Says the National Post: "This is the book that 100% of the 99% should read, if they want to better know the forces battering them into eternal penury."

*** *** ***

"The rich are very different from you and me," F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in one of his short stories, and wealth and its corrosive power is one of the themes of "The Great Gatsby."  I had never read "Gatsby," or any of Fitzgerald's novels, for that matter -- although I certainly knew about both (and had seen the 1974 version of the movie). It's a slim book, didn't take very long to read, but beautifully written, although in a style that we don't often see any more. (Sample memorable line: “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”)

And I found the themes and specific subject matter are still amazingly relevant to our times -- conspicuous consumption, self-reinvention, the corrupting influence of money, a culture of entitlement -- not to mention the relentless pursuit of a dream (something that many ALI-ers will relate to).  The book was written and is set in the New York City/Long Island area in the 1920s, pre-Crash & Great Depression.   

Dh (until his recent termination) & I have both worked on Bay Street -- the Wall Street of Canada -- for more than 25 years. (Dh spent about 10 years of that time on the floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange, before it closed and trading was almost completely automated -- including Black Monday, October 19, 1987, when markets crashed around the world.)  And while the vast majority of people who work on Bay Street (and I imagine Wall Street too) are like us and make a good but not spectacular living, we've both had plenty of opportunities to observe the movers & shakers who make the big bucks, who drive expensive sportscars and live in big houses and spend weekends at their "cottages" in Muskoka (with boathouses that could easily and comfortably accommodate an entire family), or their ski chalets or Florida condos in the winter, and send their kids to expensive private schools. They make the decisions and give the orders -- and then move on to the next thing on their agenda, leaving the rest of us to scurry around in their wake and produce results as best we can. When I read Fitzgerald's description of Tom and Daisy as "careless people [who] smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” -- I knew in my bones what he meant.

*** *** ***

So I managed to finish Gatsby The Book just before Gatsby The Movie was released, just before Voldemort Day... and since I had nothing better to do that day and was looking for a place to hide out from all the hoopla, it was my movie of choice for the afternoon.

I dimly remember seeing the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby," which starred Mia Farrow as Daisy & Robert Redford -- the hottest thing in movies at the time -- as Gatsby. I don't remember a whole lot about it, except that I saw it at the drive in with my mom & sister (I was 13 at the time). To be honest, the thing I remember most was not so much Redford (even though I was -- & still am -- a big fan) but a young Sam Waterston's quiet, dark charisma as Nick Carraway. (We saw "The Way We Were" around the same time, and THAT made much more of an impression.) 

Leonard DiCaprio is no Robert Redford... I am not a particularly big fan of his overall -- but he has turned in some impressive performances (my favourite probably being the immortal Jack "I'm king of the world!" Dawson in "Titanic") -- and, overall, he was a pretty good Gatsby. It was a little jarring to hear the words "old sport" coming out of his mouth (although I'm not sure there are very many actors these days who could mouth those words & make them sound natural), but his obsession with Daisy and his teenage-like angst over meeting her again was believable.

Tobey Maguire was a wide-eyed Nick, and I liked Carey Mulligan as Daisy -- but the one I really had my eyes riveted on was an Australian actress, Elizabeth Debicki, as pro golfer Jordan Baker, in only her second film. I thought she stole every scene she was in, and I hope we see more of her in the future.

Coincidentally, I read Mel's post about disliking 3-D movies just as we were heading out see the movie in regular format, we would have had to drive two towns down the road and gone to either a 10:45 a.m. showing (popcorn at 10:45 a.m.??) or 3 p.m., which was a little later than we like to go to the movies on Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, the cineplex at the local mall was showing the 3-D version much earlier in the afternoon, so we decided to cough up the extra $3 each (!) & go there.

This was my very first 3-D movie.  Several of the commenters on Mel's post warned of headaches, & I did have a slight headache afterward. :p  There were a few cool things I noticed, like how the words that Nick wrote floated onto the screen, and how the credits hung midair. But I wasn't totally blown away, and I'm not really sure that 3-D added that much to the overall experience. I'd actually like to see the "flat" regular version for comparison. I think that some of the overall "look" of the movie probably had more to do with Baz Luhrmann's over the top style and it would probably look pretty flashy & colourful no matter how you viewed it.  Maybe 3-D is better suited to action or fantasy movies like "Avatar" or "Life of Pi." Whether it's worth the extra $3 a ticket is another matter. I'd say movies at the theatre are probably expensive enough these days without adding another $6 per couple to the expense. I suppose some parents feel obligated/nagged to take their kids to the 3-D versions of some movies, but being free to choose a regular 2-D movie is one of those perks of non-parenthood I am happy to claim.  :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day odds & ends

  • It's Father's Day... not quite as much hyped as Voldemort Day, a month earlier, but still an "ouch" moment for dh & his kindred bereaved dads.
  • We visited Kate at the cemetery yesterday, and then went to FIL's last night.
  • Given his choice of how to spend the day, dh & I went to see "Man of Steel," the new Superman movie. I thought the violence & destruction went on (& on... & on... & on...) way, way too long. On the bright side, however, Henry Cavill fills out the suit quite nicely. ; ) (Even dh thought so, lol.)
  • It is, in part, a story about adoption & a boy's search for identity & belonging -- and it was this aspect of the movie that probably touched me the most.  Sent as a baby by his doomed parents from a dying planet, Kal-El crash-lands in the field of a Kansas farm couple, who raise him. When Dad (Kevin Costner) fiercely tells young Kal-El/Clark, "You ARE my son," I got tears in my eyes.  
  • Last year at about this time, I was in the throes of rediscovering one of the power pop bands I'd loved as a teenager, The Raspberries. Right now, I'm having fun rediscovering yet another band from the soundtrack of my childhood, the Rascals. At the behest of their biggest fan, Steve van Zandt (of Bruce Springsteen's band & The Sopranos TV show), the four original band members recently reunited on Broadway for a combination concert/multimedia production called "Once Upon a Dream." It's coming to Toronto in August for 10 shows, & I got tickets this week for me & dh. : )   From the reviews I've read, the music ("Groovin," "Good Loving,""How Can I Be Sure," People Got to Be Free," etc. etc.) still holds up (& these guys are pushing 70). 
  • Why the Rascals? As I've mentioned before, "The Best of Herman's Hermits Vol. 2" was the first album I ever owned -- a present for my 6th birthday. Not too far behind, however, my sister & I received "Groovin" by the Young Rascals (as they were called then) as a gift, either from my grandparents (!) or (perhaps more likely) my uncle. I know the well-worn album is still somewhere in the depths of my parents' basement;  until I can dig it out again, I've been listening to the audio tracks that some kind soul uploaded to YouTube, as well as exploring other songs and video performances -- and having a blast doing so. ; )  Even though I haven't heard some of the songs in at least 30 years, I find I can still sing along. There truly is no music like the stuff you grew up with, is there?
  • I will leave you with one of my favourite songs from the album (as sung on what seems to be the Ed Sullivan Show):  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Love You Forever

Recently, an online acquaintance (not from the ALI community) posted on Facebook about reading the book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch to her child, at the child's request -- & commented what a "creepy" book it was.

(The story follows a mother & son through the years, starting with the mother singing a lullaby "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..." to her son as a baby. What most people find "creepy" about the book is that she continues to do so as he grows into adulthood, including driving to his house & sneaking into his bedroom at night to rock him & sing him the lullaby. Haven't they ever heard of comic exaggeration??) 

Several commenters chimed in that they too thought it was a "creepy" tale.

I had to bite my cybertongue to keep from responding, from asking if they were aware of the story behind the story. Because I am sure that some if not all of them would have thought THAT was pretty "creepy" too.  :p 

The incident has continued to rankle, though, and that's why I am posting about it here. It also made me realize that I have never (I don't think?) written a post on this subject... so here it is.  

I know "Love You Forever" is a book that people tend to either love or hate. (It is the author's best selling book, and also the most controversial.)  Count me among the fans, and for a very special reason.

You might wonder why I, the childless infertile bereaved mother, would be a fan of a children's book & author. I was long past childhood by the time Robert Munsch began publishing his stories in the early 1980s. The first book of his that I remember hearing about & then reading was "The Paper Bag Princess."  It tickled my feminist fancy ; ) and I've bought it for many little girls since then as a refreshing antidote to the Disney Princess cr*p that's out there.

I don't remember how I learned the story behind the story of "Love You Forever."  It was certainly after Katie's stillbirth, but possibly before I heard the story told -- and heard Munsch sing the "Love You Forever" song -- in a CBC TV Life & Times episode in 2001. 

Robert Munsch is a complex and fascinating man. He's an American who has lived in Canada for almost 40 years.

He studied to be a Jesuit priest, and began working with children in orphanages & daycare centres -- which is how he started storytelling and, eventually, turning those stories into books. 

He has struggled with manic depression and addiction, and is still recovering from a stroke he had a few years ago. 

And he is the father of two stillborn babies, Sam and Gilly, born in 1979 and 1980 -- and three multiracial adopted children (now adults).

"Love You Forever" was written as a love song to his lost children.

As Munsch explains on his website: 
Love You Forever started as a song.

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.

For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.

Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.
A year or two after we saw the CBC Life & Times episode, dh & I saw Munsch onstage at Word on the Street in Toronto, a street festival held every fall to celebrate books and literacy. 

He told several stories -- including "Aaron's Hair," which was, I think, his newest book at the time. Most of the kids featured in Munsch's books are based on real-life kids and their stories, and Munsch will often tell the story hundreds of times before it gets published in book form. The real Aaron, now a young man in his 20s, appeared onstage with him.

And then, he launched into "Love You Forever." Munsch is an incredibly animated storyteller.  He used Aaron as a prop/baby, rocking him back & forth, back & forth as he told the story. It was hilarious & touching and wonderful. The children loved it.

As the story ended, & I wiped my eyes (and noticed all the parents around us wiping theirs), dh turned to me with a smile, "Let's go," he said, "Nothing can top that." And so we left.

It's still a wonderful memory.

Have you read "Love You Forever?"  Creepy or heartwarming or something in between? Did you know the story behind the story? Does that knowledge change your perception of the book?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

GRAB(ook) Club: "Measure of Love" by Melissa Ford

I am so happy that Melissa at Stirrup Queens is kicking off another incarnation of her online book club -- particularly since my desire to participate in the Barren B*tches Book Club was a key reason why I started this blog in 2007. : ) 

This time around, participants have been asked to post a single question on their blog (as if we were all sitting in a room together talking about the book), which everyone can answer in the comment section. All of the posts will be compiled in a linked list on Stirrup Queens ( Discussions are also taking place on Facebook and GoodReads too -- post your question there if you don't have a blog and dive into the discussion.

The first book up for discussion is Melissa's own new novel, Measure of Love -- a sequel to Life From Scratch (which I wrote about here) -- featuring the further adventures of blogger/cook Rachel Goldman, her ex-husband Adam and her best friend, Arianna. If you liked Life From Scratch, I'm sure you will also like Measure of Love. Along with the old favourite characters, there are new ones introduced to keep things interesting, and new dilemmas for Rachel to face, including weddings (plural), meddling inlaws and challenges to face in her friendship with Arianna.

If you haven't read Life From Scratch, you could still read Measure of Love on its own -- but you'll probably get more out of it if you start with the first book. 

There were lots of questions I considered throwing out to the field (and I hope someone else will ask the other ones I had...!) -- but I settled on asking this one. My question to all of you:

If you are married:  Could you relate to the pre-wedding jitters and doubts described in the book? Did you have them yourself?  If so, were they related to the person you were marrying, the details of the wedding, or your doubts about the institution of marriage itself?  If you're not married (or if you were a supremely calm & confident bride), was there another time in your life when you doubted the path you were following or wondered if you were doing the right thing?
My own answer: 
I was actually a pretty calm bride. One of my girlfriends/bridesmaids can actually be heard on my wedding video as they helped me put on my veil, marvelling, "Look at her -- she's so calm!"  The minister commented that she'd never seen such an organized bride (and this was before the days of computers or the Internet -- all my organizing was done inside a good old-fashioned three-ring binder -- which I still have, by the way.

Probably the biggest problem in planning the wedding was finding the bridesmaids' dresses, but my sister finally found the perfect one. The minister at my mother's church in the town where my parents had recently moved was decidedly lukewarm about marrying us (much to my mother The Church Lady's ire) -- but the (female) chaplain at the university where dh & I had met -- which seemed like the perfect place for us to get married anyway -- responded warmly to our request.  And I had to convince my skeptical dad to cough up $400 to hire a newfangled thing called a videographer to make a video of the wedding -- something I saw at a wedding show & decided I would regret not doing. (Of course, guess who wound up showing the finished video to everyone within a 200-mile radius?)  Of course, back then, weddings, while still a Big Deal, were not quite the production they have become these days, influenced by well-publicized celebrity weddings, reality TV shows like "Say Yes to Dress" and Internet forums like Pinterest. There were fewer details to obsess over and not quite as many Joneses to keep up with. ; )

Dh & I had a long-distance relationship for the better part of three years before we got married, so I had plenty of time to think about what I was doing & whether this was what I really wanted.  I was just so happy that we were finally getting married & getting to be together for good. I think that outweighed any cold feet I might have had.

I will admit there was one moment, shortly before the wedding -- I remember looking at him and it just HIT me -- " Holy cow -- THIS is the guy I'm going to spend the rest of my life with??" It was like, "Who is this guy??"  The moment passed.  That was almost 28 years ago, and while we've certainly had our ups & downs, I know I definitely made the right decision. : )

I did have a moment of "OMG" panic just as the doors to the chapel swung open and the bridesmaids began walking down the aisle... not so much, "Get me out of here" but "Omigod, look at all those people -- and they're all going to be looking at ME next!"  I took a very deep breath just as my dad & I started our own journey down the aisle -- which the photographer happened to capture for posterity. Ugh. :p 

And now, over to you. : )

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for Measure of Love ( You can get your own copy of Measure of Love by Melissa Ford at bookstores including Amazon (

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What I think about DINKs

I've written before about labels, and their inadequacy when it comes to describing the life situation that dh & I and others like us find ourselves in.

Are we childLESS? -- sounds like our lives are "less than" or lacking. (Well, there IS something lacking, something that we -- like so many others -- once assumed would be there... but do we have to dwell on it?) 

Are we childFREE? -- sounds like children are a burden that we are happy to be "free" of. I know some people who have deliberately chosen not to have children prefer this label.  I know some of us who didn't necessarily come to this life as a first choice prefer this label because it sounds more positive than childLESS -- but it still doesn't seem to adequately reflect the journey we've made to reach this point in our lives. 

Barren? -- ugh, so forlorn & desolate sounding. :p

The Not Mom has just blogged about another label that sometimes gets tossed at us.  I first remember hearing in the early 1980s, around the time dh & I got married:  DINK, i.e., an acronym for the descriptor Dual Income, No Kids. It was a term closely associated with "yuppies" -- Young Urban Professionals. Dh & I did used to joke about being "yuppies" sometimes, but I disliked the term DINK then, & I dislike it still. Perhaps it's because, as a kid (at least in the time & place(s) where I grew up), "dink" was a nasty name we called other kids who were acting like jerks -- and in at least one place where I lived, it was also used as a synonym for a certain male body part (!).  (Look it up!)

Even as an acronym, there was a certain nasty connotation attached to the term. As The Not Mom observes:
Maybe I am a little too sensitive, but I feel that DINK, when used in the wrong context, can be deeply hurtful and more than a little misguided. All it does is create more of the Us vs. Them mentality.  
When this person said it to me, it was with the knowing wink and contempt that somehow my life choices were not as important as hers. There is a lot of weight when we use words, as I have mentioned before, so why are women often looking to label each other and call out our differences?

Not Mom, you're right, it was & is usually used in a not-entirely-nice and divisive way. It reinforces the stereotype that if we don't have kids but do have two incomes, we must be rolling in money. (But really now -- aren't most couples these days "double income" -- and usually out of necessity -- whether they have kids or not?)

Again, I ask -- why do we feel the need to slap a label on everything & everyone,  anyway?